The wedding is a castle, and the castle has been rented for five days. During business hours, it’s open to the public. After hours, it belongs to the bride and groom, and their friends who keep trickling in from around the globe.
“We’re hanging out in a castle,” Will kept saying, squeezing my hand.
Will and I are staying across the street at an inn, which is mostly* lovely, with a group of other Americans, relatives and friends of the bride. There’s a charming dining room that serves breakfast for guests and other meals to anyone wandering by. And people do wander by—there’s the castle to see, of course, and then a short walk down to a beach or up to an ancient-looking church. From the garden of the inn, we can see visitors to the church wandering amongst the gravestones. So far we’ve been content to play with the inn’s dogs, who could literally fetch sticks and pieces of bark and tennis balls for hours.
*I set off the fire alarm at the inn by taking a shower. There was something wrong with the water controls. As I told Will after my first shower of the weekend, “Turn on the hot water and wait five minutes.” But the next day when I showered, I couldn’t seem to get any cold water. When I opened the door, the steam hit the fire detector, and a minute later, while I was still toweling off, the fire alarm started. Will went downstairs to see what was wrong and was told that someone in room 3 (me!) had let steam out of the bathroom, and voila! Piercing alarm.
The groom’s parents rented a tour bus for the American visitors (and some Brits, too) and we drove all around southwestern Wales.
We walked around Carew Castle (throw a stone anywhere and you could hit a castle. Well, not really), then were dropped off in Tenby. For some reason, we were all desperate for ice cream at the same moment, which is exactly my type of people and exactly my type of vacation.
Something happened on this trip—just a little something, ten minutes of panic, and not even to me—and sitting again in my seat in the bus, I could see it all as a piece of fiction, something I would write in a year when I was done with my current manuscript. The story unfolded in my mind, gaining characters, the moment extending backward and forward in time, the plot growing legs, becoming a story.
I promised myself to store it for later.
Some scenes from Tenby:
The day ended with the rehearsal and the following dinner, and a general sense of goodwill and warmth, partially fueled by new friendships, partially by wine, partially by weather that locals were calling “magic”—early rain gave way to puffy clouds and then an endless blue sky. And then it ended again with a trip to the pub up the street (literally everything here is just up the street), pints of Guinness, and mingling as guests from London began to arrive.
The barkeep was less than thrilled with our crowd, though—noisy Americans, drunken visitors. Every now and then I got a glimpse of him in the corner, scrolling through the feed on his phone.
Paula Treick DeBoard